Some Dense-Ass Bread
I’ve been obsessed since winter with recreating Mestemacher bread — the dark, seedy bread from Germany that comes with only six slices hermetically sealed and sold on the lowest possible bread shelf at my local Amazon, I mean, Whole Foods store. I like that bread, however, it’s expensive and despite that it’s organic and doesn’t have any preservatives, I don’t always love it because it tends to taste a little stale and no matter the variety, it also tends to always taste the same.
So I decided to try to make it myself, and I quickly realized that since my goal was not to make a dough rise pillow-like, but instead focus on the nutrient content, that a lot of my bread-baking-anxiety faded. Leaden is to be celebrated, especially when the bulky weight means a lot of nutrition and high-quality fuel. Most days just one hearty slice of this with a dollop of butter or a slice of avocado keeps me going me for hours.
Ok, let’s talk gluten. I think by now everyone knows my feelings about gluten. Yes, I do believe that it can be a trigger for a garden variety of ills, but I also believe that it’s not the source of all evil. This contrarian view in my hamlet of Boulder, of course, places me on the opposite side of the fence of about 90% of the women and a handful of navel-gazing, I mean, overly-health conscious, men in town. No, I do not endorse eating all-purpose white flour pancakes for breakfast, French-style baguette sandwiches for lunch, and pasta with a side of bread for dinner. But should we feel guilty, or heaven-forbid, deny ourselves a slice of freshly baked bread, the occasional exquisite croissant, a batch handmade fresh pasta, a slice of artisan pizza, or even, dare I say, the odd bagel from the independent bakery down the street? No! Indulge occasionally because the word on the street is that you only live once! Of course, if you’re celiac, blow-up like pufferfish or have some other verifiable gluten-induced medical condition, by all means, then steer clear.
The recipe below can be made with all different kinds of flours and even ancient grains. The ratio of three cups flour to 1 1/2 cups water is what seems to be most important. I’ve used mixtures of all-purpose white (I know, I know –the horror!), whole wheat, rye, and spelt flour– all organic. Most recently I made a loaf (the one in the pictures) that was technically gluten-free in that I used only rye and spelt flours, but if you are celiac these flours might be off-limits. Even though I wouldn’t use it for this recipe, I also never use gluten-free mixes because I think they usually contain a lot of junk like tapioca, rice flour, potato starch and xanthan gum, etc.
The other equation in this dense-ass bread is the amount of nuts and seeds. I generally keep the ratio around three cups flour to three or three and a half cups nuts and seeds. I have used the following: ground flax, millet, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia, and walnuts — sometimes all of them, and sometimes just whatever I had on hand.
So it’s fairly easy recipe to memorize and quite flexible:
Total 3 cups flour – your choice
Total 3 1/2 cups nuts and seeds – your choice
1 1/2 cups water
1 packet of yeast
2 teaspoons salt
|Prep Time||15 minutes|
|Cook Time||40-45 minutes|
- 1 1/2 cups water, lukewarm
- 1 package active, dry yeast approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
- 3 cups flour (white, whole wheat, spelt, rye, etc.) Divided however you wish...the ratio is not as important
- 2 teaspoons ancient sea salt
- 1/2 cup ground flax seed if you don't grind your flax it will just pass through the body unabsorbed
- 1/2 cup millet
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- First toast all of your nuts and seeds lightly in a large heavy skillet. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn, but toast long enough that you can begin to smell their oils releasing. Let cool to room temperature before adding to the flour mixture.
- Using a heavy-duty mixer, add flours and salt to the mixing bowl. With the motor running slowly, add your lukewarm (not hot or you will kill the yeast) water and yeast. (No need to proof your yeast unless you think it's super old, in which case you should just go buy new yeast.)
- Next add your toasted, but cooled seeds and nuts. Be sure that they really are cool and not hot because otherwise you risk the heat destroying the yeast. Mix.
- The dough is going to be wet and dense. Sometimes if you use all whole wheat, it will be super dry so you'll have to add more water. In general, your dough won't pull together in a ball after you knead it but will remain quite squishy and moist--all of which is totally fine!
- After you have mixed the bread for about 5-7 minutes on a low speed, cover the bowl with a towel or put a plate on top and let sit in a warm place to rise for about 1-2 hours. It's likely not going to rise a ton because of the weight of the ingredients, but it should rise some.
- After it rises, punch the dough down and place in a lightly greased bread loaf pan. Cover and let rise again for another hour or so. Sometimes I even let the dough rise twice in the bowl and then put in my greased loaf pan. Remember --this bread is very forgiving.
- About 15 minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake your bread for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Because it's so heavy, I do use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness. It should read at about 190 degrees. You can also tap the bottom and if it sounds hollow, it should be cooked all the way through.
- Let cool completely -- about 30 minutes. Slice, toast and enjoy!
2 thoughts on “Some Dense-Ass Bread”
My husband and I live in Alaska. He’d mentioned to some kind of bread they used to make decades ago that was called ” lead bread,” it was so dense. And very tasty along with nutritious. This recipe is the closest to what I believe he may have been referring to. I will share this with him, and we’ll try it out. Great for camping and packing a nutritious flavorful food.
I was looking for a dense bread recipe, and I sure found it here! It is chock full of seeds and nuts, which just makes it that much more nutritious. I use half white and half whole wheat flour. It is amazing toasted with honey. If you love seeds and nuts and dense bread, this is the recipe for you!